Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC difference – do they offer Firewall security?


Which offer more security option – Protectli vs Netgate? Can you get faster speed if you use them? Netgate comes with Dual core ARM Cortex-A53 1.2 GHz that delivers near gigabit routing of common home iPerf3 traffic and in excess of 650 Mbps of firewall throughput. On other side, Protecli comes with Intel Quad Core Celeron J1900, 64 bit, 2.0GHz, 2MB L2 Cache. This Protecli is barebones for maximum customizability. Get more in Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC comparison.

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Pros & Cons – Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC



  • Compact design
  • Preinstalled OS
  • Has AES-NI


  • Sometime, it gets warm


* Hardware works well.
* Compact package.
* Very flexible switch providing lots of ports (However read the documentation carefully).
* pfSense is a powerful and flexible platform.
* Excellent customer support and documentation.


* The software is proprietary to Netgate. It will not run public distro of pfSense.
* The embedded eMMC flash is slow!
* Only 2 GB RAM
* Snort users: don’t expect to get 1Gb/s throughput. Something more like 300 – 500 Mb/s is probably the limit.
* Runs warm

Specs – Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC

Protectli Specs

  • Band Protectli
  • Product Dimensions 4.5 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH 4.5 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Hardware Platform Linux
  • Operating System Windows
  • Computer Memory Type DDR3 SDRAM
  • Flash Memory Size 120 GB
  • Item Weight 2.33 pounds
  • Color Black
  • Processor Brand Intel
  • Processor Count 1
  • Hard Drive Interface Ethernet_10Base-T
  • Batteries 1 CR2 batteries required.


  • Dimensions 4.25 x 6.8 x 1.7 inches
  • Item Weight 1.89 pounds
  • Item model number SG-2100
  • Batteries 1 Lithium Metal batteries required. (included)

Compare Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC

SG-1100 Security Gateway Appliance with pfSense Plus SoftwareNetgate Appliance with pfSense Plus Software
CPUDual Core Cortex-A53 ARM64 SoC @ 1.2GHzQuad Core Intel Atom C3558 @ 2.2GHz
Storage8 GB eMMC8 GB eMMC Flash (Upgradable)
Memory1 GB DDR44 GB DDR4 2400 MHz DIMM (Upgradable to 16GB)
Ports(3) 1 GbE ports (WAN/LAN/OPT) which share a 1 GbE Marvell switch(4) GbE RJ45 Intel SoC Integrated MAC; (2) GbE RJ45 Intel i210
L3 Forwarding880 Mbps3.66 Gbps
Firewall (10k ACLs)656 Mbps3.65 Gbps
IPsec VPN74.2 Mbps923 Mbps
IPsec encryption standard usedAES-128-CBC + SHA1AES-128-GCM

Customer reviews – Protectli vs Netgate Pfsense mini PC



This micro-appliance is very nicely built and packaged. I really like the case design and it looks very professional-grade, finned aluminum with vents and black paint finish. 


this router has quality design written all over it; it doesn’t feel flimsy in any way, and even the packaging is impressively high quality.



I tweaked PFsense to near perfect before placing it on the LAN. I went into the actiontec, copied out the WAN MAC, released the WAN IP and shut it down for the last time. I went back to PFsense, emulated the actiontec MAC on the WAN port and connected up the Ethernet cable from my ONT (it was already set for ethernet, never used MOCA). Boom, was able to ping outside. I also had to buy a MOCA to Ethernet bridge for my three set-top boxes. This is all working great, and I’m very happy with the setup!


This little NetGate firewall works well – pfSense isn’t the easiest thing to configure, but it’s not too bad, especially if you have a clue how networks work. It would be challenging for the less technically savvy to configure, though to be fair the defaults are pretty close for most folks who need just one internal interface.



Install from USB stick was very easy, and within the hour I was configured and online.
I got the 4-port unit in anticipation of adding another sub-network for DEV and Test networks, but supply routing in-between. I think this will work nicely with all 4 ports active.
So far, SpeedTest throughput has been in the 700Mb / sec range on Spectrum (Supposed to be 1GB but rate varies in my neighborhood. All inspection filters were active during these tests. More testing on-the-horizon.


I was fortune enough to be upgraded to gigabit fiber at my home. I chose this device specifically because I believed it would be able to accommodate the 940mbit transfer speed that my phone company had promised me. The Netgate SG-3100 was capable of hitting these speeds while it was installed downstream of the Centurylink modem but when I removed the modem from the configuration and connected the Netgate SG-3100 directly to the fiber ONT, my speeds dropped to around 700mbit. This is because the pfsense implementation of PPPoE, which is required to connect with the phone company equipment, is limited by the speed of the CPU.



Three PCs all downloading Final Fantasy XV (two hard wired, one WiFi), an Xbox One X and Xbox One downloading Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (one hard wired, one WiFi), and four Samsung Tab S6 Lites streaming Avengers: Endgame over Disney+. Max CPU usage was around 40%.


The C3558 has more cores and over double the cache. Increased cache is hard to quantify in terms of benefit, but is usually quite significant. On the other hard, it has a lower clock speed and no turboboost. In the end I’d say these are pretty balanced, especially because IPSec performance AFAIK is going to be limited by the AES-NI blocks within the CPU, which for a given generation is the same for all of the CPUs (if one of these is going to have an edge in AES-NI, I expect it to be the C3558, because it is newer and designed for networking/edge appliances).

Editor’s recommendations

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